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Bees Become Creative Collaborators by Helping Complete This Artist’s Embroideries

Mixed Media Art with Bees by Ava Roth

“Porcupine Quills and Pussy Willow”

Contemporary artist Ava Roth is not afraid of bees. In fact, honeybees are critical to Roth's mixed-media encaustic artwork which combines beeswax and pigment to create striking abstract compositions. Her recent series Honeycomb Collection embraces the natural products of beehives by working in collaboration with the insects to add their hexagonal combs for the finishing touch on each piece.

The Honeycomb Collection brings together materials both man-made and natural. Most works within the series are composed within two frames. Inside an embroidery hoop, Roth begins with wax, beads, fabric, horsehair, and other materials. The hoop is then placed within a beekeeper's frame and later in a beehive. The frame then fills with honeycombs which naturally integrate with—and spill into—Roth's own work. The result is a cross-species collaboration of great beauty.

Roth's artistic practice is concerned with the health of bees. Her process is, in part, meant to raise awareness for bee populations suffering from Colony Collapse Disorder. But in order to make their partnership a beneficial and successful one, Roth trained under Master Beekeeper Mylee Nordin. The training was indispensable in order to make a successful collaboration. “With honeybees for colleagues, my work has become dependent on things like seasons, sun, brood strength, nectar flow, and pollen sources,” Roth tells My Modern Met. “I’m an impatient person, and so it takes a lot of equanimity to slow myself down and accept that the pieces in this collection are only going to be made when it suits the bees perfectly well to make them. But I do, of course, realize that listening to and then respecting the bees' needs is a big part of the beauty of this project!”

Scroll down to see more of Roth's amazing encaustic works, including her Honeycomb Collection, check out her website.

Artist Ava Roth creates mixed-media pieces in collaboration with colonies of bees.

Mixed Media Art with Bees by Ava Roth

“Yellow Horsehair, Beads and Ribbon”

Falling Horsehair, Gold #2 Ava Roth

“Falling Horsehair, Gold #2”

Roth draws on the craft of embroidery to create her Bee Colony Collection artwork.

Mixed Media Art with Bees by Ava Roth

“Encaustic, Bark and Fur”

Mixed Media Art with Bees by Ava Roth

“Porcupine Quills and Wrapped Horsehair”

Roth affixes embroidery hoops to frames in beehives. The bees craft their natural honeycombs the hoops.

Green and Gold with Horsehair

“Green and Gold with Horsehair”

Mixed Media Art with Bees by Ava Roth

“Pink Beeswax and Fur”

These encaustic pieces (meaning incorporating wax) use mostly organic and local materials, such as horsehair and reclaimed wood.

Pink Gouache with Ribbon

“Pink Gouache with Ribbon”

Indigo Encaustic

“Indigo Encaustic”

Bees On Indigo Encaustic

Bees working on the comb structure of “Indigo Encaustic”

Porcupine Quill Flowers

“Porcupine Quill Flowers”

Porcupine Quills and Wrapped Horsehair

“Porcupine Quills and Wrapped Horsehair”

Roth uses beeswax in other encaustic works for a dreamy effect.

Ava Roth Encaustic ArtAva Roth: Website | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Ava Roth.

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Madeleine Muzdakis

Madeleine Muzdakis is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and a historian of early modern Britain & the Atlantic world. She holds a BA in History and Mathematics from Brown University and an MA in European & Russian Studies from Yale University. Madeleine has worked in archives and museums for years with a particular focus on photography and arts education. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, film photography, and reading while cuddling with her cat Georgia.

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